Getting Started with Art Therapy and Coloring: A Guide for Beginners

Certified Senior Advisor®
Senior Home Safety Specialist®
20 years of medical equipment experience
Compassionately helping seniors and their caregivers solve challenges of aging

To get started with art therapy as a beginner, gather basic supplies like coloring books, drawing paper, and art materials like colored pencils or paints. Then set aside dedicated time to color, draw, or paint as a relaxing activity, use it to cope with stress, or integrate it into hobbies like journaling to experience the therapeutic benefits.

Getting Started with Art Therapy
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Income Disclosure.

Art therapy and coloring have become increasingly popular activities for their therapeutic benefits, providing relaxation, creative expression, and gentle cognitive stimulation.

If you’re interested in exploring art therapy but unsure where to begin, this comprehensive guide will walk you through everything you need to know as a beginner, from basic supplies and techniques to incorporating it into your daily routine.

You’ll learn about:

  • essential art materials to have on hand,
  • accessibility tools to make art therapy enjoyable for all,
  • suggested activities for individuals and groups, and
  • tips for caregivers looking to support art therapy practices.

With this guide, you’ll be set up for an engaging introduction to the world of art therapy, with helpful recommendations on making it adaptable to your own lifestyle and needs.

Don’t let the blank page frighten you – let your creativity flow freely using these tips for getting started with therapeutic art and coloring!

Essential Art Therapy Materials

The beauty of art therapy and coloring is in its simplicity. The list of essential items is small, adaptable, and entirely dependent on what you enjoy using.

Here are a few basic items to consider:

  • Coloring Books: Choose senior-friendly coloring books with designs and themes that appeal to you or the aspiring artist. For seniors, larger patterns with less intricate details may be less straining to the eye and hand.
  • Art Materials: Colored pencils, crayons, markers, pastels, watercolor paints, or even acrylic paints. Begin with whatever medium you feel comfortable with, and slowly expand your arsenal as you venture on.
  • Sketchpad or Drawing Paper: If you’re more interested in the free expression of drawing or painting, these are necessary.

Assistive Devices for More Accessible Coloring

Seniors or individuals with disabilities might face certain challenges that make holding or maneuvering typical art supplies difficult. However, this should not prevent anyone from enjoying the benefits of art therapy.

Numerous adaptive tools or assistive devices can make the coloring process more accessible and enjoyable.

  • Pen or Pencil Grips: These add-on accessories can be slid onto pencils, pens, or coloring tools to make them easier to hold, especially for those with grip strength challenges or arthritis.
  • Large-Handle Brush and Markers: Art materials with enlarged handles or grips offer better stability and control over the tool and are perfect for those with motor skill issues or limited hand dexterity.
  • Page Magnifiers: If sight is an issue, page magnifiers can help by enlarging the coloring areas making it easier to stay within lines and see details better.
  • Book Holders or Adjustable Tables: These tools can comfortably position the coloring book and reduce the need for constant holding or adjustment, relieving stress on arms and hands.
  • Table-Top Easels: These hold the coloring book or canvas at an angle, reducing the need to bend over the work and thus lessening neck or back strain.
  • Non-Slip Mats: For those whose hands might shake or jerk, non-slip mats under the coloring book help keep the paper steady and in place.

I have a list of my favorite adaptive coloring tools on Amazon for more specifics.

Remember, needing assistive devices does not mean diminished enjoyment or benefits from art therapy. These tools are designed to help you create and enjoy the process comfortably. Choose the aids that suit your needs best, and let the colors flow!

start art therapy daily routine
Instead of a nap, have a refreshing break during the day while you paint or color.

Incorporating Art Therapy and Coloring into Daily Routine

Maintaining a routine can provide a tremendous sense of security and comfort, especially in your golden years.

Incorporating art therapy and coloring into your day-to-day can seamlessly bring its benefits into your life.

Intentional Ways to Include Art Therapy in Your Day

  1. Start Your Day with Colors: Begin your morning by dedicating a set amount of time to coloring. It’s a calming way to start the day and helps set a positive mood.
  2. Mid-Day Art Breaks: Swap your afternoon nap for a session of coloring or painting. This can serve as a refreshing break in the day.
  3. Evening Wind-Down: Use art therapy as a tool to unwind in the evening, letting the day’s stresses melt away through your designs and colors.
  4. Scheduled Art Therapy Sessions: If you have a caregiver or a family member willing to participate, schedule regular joint sessions. It can act as a bonding activity and give both of you something to look forward to.
  5. Use it as a Response to Stress: When feelings of stress, anxiety, or loneliness creep in, use art therapy as a coping mechanism. The act of focusing on the art can help clear the mind and promote calmness.

Integrating Art Therapy Using More Casual Art Interventions

Planned and structured sessions aren’t the only way for you to benefit from art therapy. Sometimes creativity won’t accept appointments! 

Here are some additional suggestions for seamlessly incorporating art therapy into your regular activities, making it a fundamental part of your daily life.

  1. Doodle During TV Time: Keep a sketchpad and pencil or pen nearby while watching your favorite shows or listening to the radio and allow your hand to doodle freely.
  2. Artful Correspondence: When writing notes or letters to loved ones, express yourself creatively by adding small drawings, embellishments, or colorful borders.
  3. Color and Chat: If you enjoy long phone conversations, have your coloring sheet handy, and add strokes of color while you chat.
  4. DIY Decor: Why buy mass-produced decorations when you can create your own personalized art pieces? This allows you to engage in art creation and fill your living space with your own distinctive expression.
  5. Artistic Journaling: Opt to express your thoughts through sketches and doodles instead of solely writing in a diary. Your journal could include drawings, a mix of colors, or other artistic elements that reflect your daily emotions and experiences.
  6. Sketch Your Thoughts: Whenever an inspiring thought or idea strikes, sketch it instead of jotting it down. This can be as simple as a flowchart or a scribble, anything that helps you visualize your thoughts.
  7. Make It A Profitable Hobby: Show off your creations on your social media accounts – you might even get so popular you can sell your artwork online!

Empower your daily routine with these simple integrations of art.

These seemingly small incorporations may not only enhance your connection with art but might also result in an organic bond between your routine activities and artistic expression, further amplifying the therapeutic effects of art.

Make It Adaptable

Remember, these are mere suggestions, and the goal is not to make the inclusion of art therapy a chore. Adapt these recommendations according to your lifestyle and comfort.

Maybe your art therapy sessions work better as bi-weekly activities, or perhaps you prefer painting to coloring. Feel free to keep it flexible and enjoyable.

Consider making a designated ‘art spot’ in your home. This can be a corner of a room with your art materials and a comfortable chair. A dedicated spot signals your brain that it’s time to relax and enjoy the therapeutic creation process.

tips for caregivers supporting art therapy
Let the seniors experience art therapy at their own pace.

Tips for Caregivers Supporting Art Therapy

As a caregiver, you play an integral role in facilitating art therapy for your loved one. Here are some tips to make art therapy engaging and meaningful:

  • Observe their interests first. Note which art materials, subjects, and activities seem to delight them most, then nurture those interests. This helps make art therapy intrinsically rewarding.
  • Adapt art materials for accessibility. Use assistive devices, ergonomic grips, and other accommodations to allow them to create independently. Foster independence through accessibility.
  • Engage with them in art. Participate in art activities together. Collaborate on pieces to turn it into a bonding experience.
  • Encourage free expression over perfection. Focus on the therapeutic process rather than the end result. Celebrate their uniqueness.
  • Display their creations proudly. Hanging their art provides a sense of validation, pride, and self-worth.
  • Be patient if they struggle. Art therapy may bring up emotions. Provide support and empathy without judgment.
  • Allow them to work at their own pace. Don’t rush the creative process. Let it be calming and enjoyable.
  • Balance structure with flexibility. Some routine is good but be open to spontaneity when creative inspiration strikes!
  • Seek input from art therapists. Consult professionals for guidance on adaptations, supplies, and ways to optimize the therapeutic benefits.

With some creativity and compassion, you can make art therapy an uplifting part of your loved one’s day. Focus on enabling self-expression and fulfillment through art.

Incorporating art therapy and coloring into your daily routine doesn’t require significant shifts. With small changes here and there, you can weave these activities into your life and enjoy the beauty and calm they bring. 

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Senior Home Safety Specialist (SHSS)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

Join Our Crew!

Enter your email address to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter to get updates on new guides for seniors and the elderly and savings on senior-friendly products. And, of course, we will never sell or share your email address!

Leave a Comment